Vettel avoids further punishment

Sebastian Vettel will face no further action from the FIA for his collision with Lewis Hamilton in last month’s Azerbaijan GP.

The governing body’s decision means the Ferrari driver retains his 14-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship heading into this weekend’s Austrian GP.

The FIA said in a statement Vettel had “admitted full responsibility” and “extended his sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motorsport family.

“In light of these developments, FIA President Jean Todt decided that on this occasion the matter should be closed,” it concluded.

Vettel admitted he had over-reacted after running into the back of Hamilton’s car behind the Safety Car in a statement released on his website.

“With hindsight, I don’t believe he had any bad intentions. In the heat of the action I then overreacted, and therefore I want to apologise to Lewis directly, as well as to all the people who were watching the race. I realise that I was not setting a good example,” he said.

“I had no intention at anytime to put Lewis in danger, but I understand that I caused a dangerous situation.

“Therefore, I would like to apologise to the FIA. I accept and respect the decisions that were taken at today’s meeting in Paris, as well as the penalty imposed by the Stewards in Baku.

“I love this sport and I am determined to represent it in a way that can be an example for future generations.”

Vettel has also been warned by the FIA that any repetition of such behaviour will immediately be referred to the FIA’s International Tribunal for further investigation. In addition, the four-time world champion will take part in a variety of educational activities across the FIA’s championships.

Vettel served a 10-second stop-and-go penalty during the race in Baku, and was given three penalty points on his super licence, after stewards ruled that he had ‘steered’ into Hamilton’s car behind the Safety Car, moments after running into the race-leading Mercedes.

Despite his race penalty, Vettel still managed to finish fourth, a place ahead of Hamilton, to extend his championship lead, after the Mercedes driver was forced into an extra pit stop due to his headrest coming loose after a red-flag period.

It is the second time in a less than a year that Vettel has avoided a hearing with the International Tribunal following a post-race investigation into his behaviour and subsequent apology.

In October, Vettel was also reminded of his conduct and how he portrays himself following an expletive-ridden rant at race director Charlie Whiting over team radio during the Mexican GP.

“In the light of this sincere apology and strong commitment, the FIA President has decided, on an exceptional basis, not to take disciplinary action against Mr Vettel by bringing this matter before the FIA International Tribunal,” the FIA stated at the time.

The Baku clashes in question
Vettel’s clashes with Hamilton in Baku occurred on lap 19 of last month’s race as the field prepared to restart after a second period behind the Safety Car.

Vettel ran into the rear of the leading Mercedes on the exit of Turn 15 before moving alongside Hamilton to gesticulate, swerving into him and their cars banging wheels.

The four-time world champion accused Hamilton of “brake-testing” him but an investigation of the Mercedes driver’s telemetry data during the race showed Hamilton had neither braked nor lifted off entirely on the exit of the corner.

The analysis also showed that Hamilton had behaved in exactly the same way at the previous Safety Car restart and the one after the coming together between the two rivals.

Both during and after the race, Hamilton stated his belief that the punishment had not been severe enough and described Vettel’s conduct as “dangerous”, “disgusting” and “disgraceful”.

Vettel remains on a disciplinary tightrope with the three penalty points he received taking him to nine for the 12-month period. Should he pick up another three points at the Austrian GP, the German will be banned for the British GP.

If Vettel stays out of trouble at the Red Bull Ring, two of those nine points will clear but he will remain within five points of a one-race ban until after October’s Malaysia GP.

The FIA’s statement in full

Following an incident at the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix involving a collision between Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), Sebastian Vettel was today invited to attend a meeting at the FIA’s Paris headquarters. He was accompanied by his Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene.

He reviewed the incident together with a panel comprised of FIA Deputy President for Sport Graham Stoker, FIA General Secretary for Sport Peter Bayer, FIA Formula One World Championship Race Director Charlie Whiting and FIA Formula One World Championship Deputy Race Director and FIA Safety Director Laurent Mekies.

During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, stewards officiating at the event issued a 10-second stop-and-go penalty to Sebastian Vettel, the most severe penalty immediately applicable before displaying a black flag notice to the driver. Sebastian Vettel also had three penalty points applied to his FIA Superlicence, taking his current total to nine.

However, while respecting the Stewards’ decision, the FIA remained deeply concerned by the wider implications of the incident, firstly through the impact such behaviour may have on fans and young competitors worldwide and secondly due to the damage such behaviour may cause to the FIA’s image and reputation of the sport.

Following detailed discussion and further examination of video and data evidence related to the incident, Sebastian Vettel admitted full responsibility.

Sebastian Vettel extended his sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motorsport family. He additionally committed to devote personal time over the next 12 months to educational activities across a variety of FIA championships and events, including in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, at an FIA Formula 4 Championship to be defined and at the FIA Stewards’ seminar.

Due to this incident, President Jean Todt instructed that no road safety activities should be endorsed by Sebastian Vettel until the end of this year.

The FIA notes this commitment, the personal apology made by Sebastian Vettel and his pledge to make that apology public. The FIA also notes that Scuderia Ferrari is aligned with the values and objectives of the FIA.

In light of these developments, FIA President Jean Todt decided that on this occasion the matter should be closed.

Nevertheless, in noting the severity of the offence and its potential negative consequences, FIA President Todt made it clear that should there be any repetition of such behaviour, the matter would immediately be referred to the FIA International Tribunal for further investigation.

Commenting on the outcome of today’s meeting, FIA President Jean Todt said: “Top level sport is an intense environment in which tempers can flare. However, it is the role of top sportsmen to deal with that pressure calmly and to conduct themselves in a manner that not only respects the regulations of the sport but which befits the elevated status they enjoy.

“Sportsmen must be cognisant of the impact their behaviour can have on those who look up to them. They are heroes and role models and to millions of fans worldwide and must conduct themselves accordingly.”

source: Skysports